In his poem “Catch”, Robert Collins explores the psychological effect of baseball on family ties. Throughout the poem, it is evident that hardship is revealed when fathers play catch with their sons. From the background of the poet, it is seen that this poem was dedicated to Collins’ father. It presents both tender and tense symbols. Diction is well chosen to reveal anger and at the same time unacknowledged love. A close look at the poem unveils the persona’s annual homecoming that includes a game of catch between the two adults that is completed the moment the son throws. This is seen in the lines “the curve you wouldn’t teach me”, “the dirt, /bouncing past” his father into the shadows behind him.
“Catch” is a strong-drafted, straightforward poem that brings back memories of confession. The language of the poem is commonly used by men. Most of the symbols in the poem give it a reminiscence, confession, self-judgment, and approval. Reading this poem is like vitamins to the reader’s soul and mind since the poet has refined the words to give a feeling of confidence in the persona when he says, “the curve you wouldn’t teach me”. In short, this poem distills the quintessence of Collins’ life and experience during his childhood. Since the poet dedicates this work to his father, he remembers him with nostalgia for the sacrifice he made to educate and make him what he is.
From the title of the poem, “Catch”, it is evident that symbolism is a central style for Collins. It is part of his first movement during the early life in New Jersey. The music of the verse can be said to be casual and skillful, contradicting the grim vision of his earlier works. Even though the tone of the poem is nostalgic, this nostalgia is as clear and sharp-eyed as “the Seafarer”. Regardless of such objects of the child’s memory as poliomyelitis epidemic, empty lot baseball, the dismayed child from a rich family, little league rivals, the memory in itself is always at the expense of the bushfires of the period. Rhythmically, such fires blot out the self and leave behind the fear of nonexistence that can be termed as the primeval waters underneath. “Catch” captures both painful memories and the love of a ritual father-son play.
Through this poem, readers realize that Robert Collins attempts to speak directly about decisive moments, just like Galway Kinnell puts it about his own poems. In this poem, Collins mostly uses extended sentence structure maintained and broken across free verse lines. The structure is inhabited by T. S. Eliot’s assertion, “the ghost of a meter”. Specifically, in “Catch”, the poet employs aspects of discovery or loss of love – upheavals, actual and surreal, which life brings. According to the poet’s personal commentary, such poems like “Catch” start in chaos and end the moment they succeed in community.
Apart from the moment of inspiration in the poem, a reader may enjoy the long, mostly laborious, and momentarily frustrating procedure of revision polishing the poem to the level that lines and diction feel and sound the right way. “Catch” possesses an ease that contradicts the labor. In conclusion, it can be said that Robert Collins has achieved a great deal in revitalizing people’s memories of their childhood. Based on his life experience, he skillfully uses language to capture the reader’s attention.